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COVID-19 vaccines challenge takes B Medical Systems to new business dimensions
Luxembourg:– B Medical Systems, the Luxembourg-based pioneer in the medical equipment industry, is ramping up its capacity to unprecedented levels to meet the cold chain storage challenges of new COVID-19 vaccines.
B Medical Systems’ response to the pandemic is detailed in the January 2021 edition of Paperjam, the newsletter for the Luxembourg business community, representing more than 1,000 companies.
In an interview with Paperjam, B Medical Systems’ CEO, Luc Provost, reveals that it was very early in the global coronavirus crisis that the company started to experience significant new demand for its medical storage and transport systems, with an initial upsurge in orders during April 2020, when the crisis in Europe and the Americas was barely two months old.
Significant B Medical Systems’ orders included projects in Mexico, Peru and Bavaria.
The most intense demand was for medical freezers, even before it emerged that the new generation of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccines being developed by Pfizer/BioNTech would need ultra-low temperature (ULT) storage at -70oC to remain stable while the Moderna vaccine, also using mRNA technology, would require medical freezer storage at -20oC.
Scale and urgency
Mr. Provost said on Paperjam that the new orders were of different orders of magnitude in both scale and urgency.
“COVID-19 is by far the largest vector of orders B Medical Systems has seen in its history. Before the coronavirus crisis, typical orders were for between 3,000 and 4,000 devices. Today we are discussing orders above 15,000 devices,” said Mr. Provost.
“This is a real change of scale that has taken place because of COVID-19 and it has been accompanied by acceleration: delivery times must be fairly short, with countries needing to be equipped in preparation for the actual arrival of new vaccines,” he added.
Ramping up production
B Medical Systems was no stranger to orders to support strategic health programs: the company has recently been involved with large-scale vaccinations against polio in Nigeria to help eradicate the disease. However, the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has demanded a determined production response.
“Producing a ULT freezer demands several hours of manufacturing, and to this point we have been able to make several hundred units per week. Now we need to manufacture up to several thousands per week,” Mr. Provost declared.
B Medical Systems is working closely with Luxembourg’s Ministry of the Economy and the Municipality of Hosingen to fast track plans for a new production hall and have it operational by the end of the third quarter of 2021, allowing it to increase its -80 °C freezer production six fold.
The COVID-19 pandemic has placed a new focus on B Medical Systems’ status as a global leader in cold chain transport and storage, supporting vaccination programs worldwide since the early 1970s. “We have been the world leader in the cold chain for human vaccination for more than four decades. During the 1970s, we were the only company to respond to UNICEF’s PPE program to meet the storage needs for heat-sensitive vaccines,” Mr. Provost explained.
“We have managed to maintain our leadership position through technological innovation. Our company has around 100 patents, all hosted in Luxembourg,” he noted.
Technological innovation has been supported by a growing R&D and hi-tech production base, with current owners, the Malaysian-based investment fund Navis Capital Partners having invested more than 30 million euros in the automation of the Hosingen site.
“From four R&D engineers in 2015, we have grown to more than thirty today,” said Mr. Provost.
The B Medical Systems’ CEO said that current production methodologies worked in synergy with fast-track R&D.
“The development of a new product takes an average of two years. We have different projects running in parallel. Instead of developing a project in two years, we can do it now in six months,” Mr. Provost told Paperjam.
“Being smaller than our competitors also allows us to be more flexible and responsive, both in deployment and production” Mr. Provost concluded.
About B Medical Systems
B Medical Systems S.à r.l. is a Luxembourg-based manufacturer and global distributor of certified medical devices with more than 40 years of experience.
As a market leader in the vaccine cold chain industry, B Medical Systems contributes to the success of immunization programs across the world with a portfolio that includes Ultra-Low Freezers, Solar Direct Drive Refrigerators, Ice Lined Refrigerators and Transport Boxes.
The company also produces a complete range of high-end Medical Refrigeration and Blood Management solutions including the laboratory refrigerators/freezers, ultra-low freezers, blood bank refrigerators, plasma freezers, contact shock freezers and transport boxes to meet the medical refrigeration and transportation needs of blood banks, hospitals, pharmacies, laboratories and the pharmaceutical industry.
B Medical Systems – Saving lives through reliable and innovative technology
Further information at: www.bmedicalsystems.com
Click on A real change in dimension linked to Covid to read the original Paperjam article (in French).
Click on B Medical Systems Ultra-Low Freezers for detailed product information.
Click on B Medical Systems Laboratory Freezers for detailed product information.
Click on Reliability of Ultra-Low Freezers for Safe Storage of Valuable Samples from B Medical Systems to download the White Paper.